Saturday, January 31, 2009

Leftovers elevated

Leftovers can be delicious, too!

I took leftover asian dinner night and transformed it into a delightful supper of salmon cakes over salad with green beans, snap peas, and red peppers.

Salmon Cakes
Cooked salmon, flaked
Dijon mustard
1 egg white
1 scallion
bread crumbs

Mix together, make patties, coat in more bread crumbs.

Saute in olive oil

Put atop greens with veggies.

Dressing: lemon juice, dijon, honey, S&P, olive oil

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Asian Dinner Night

After a nice hour of community education Pilates, it's good to come home to a healthy dinner. I chose asian because of the recent Chinese New Year and there are asian recipes everywhere!
I had prepped everything last night because I was pretty sure Alicia and Terrin would be impatient to eat.

So here's the menu: Mushroom potstickers , Spicy Green Bean Saute, Asian Grilled Salmon, Clementine granita

First course - potstickers. Last fall we took a community ed class called "Killer Chinese Potstickers" and now I rock at making these cute little purses filled with mushrooms, carrots, cabbage, and other good stuff. I made them last night and fried/steamed them today. Here is a horrible picture of them.

Main course: Spicy Green Bean Saute - a recipe from my friend Ann (recipe below) with yummy green beans, snap peas, and red peppers. And Asian Grilled Salmon.

Dessert: Clementine granita. I wanted something sweet yet not bad enough to undo all the good calorie-burning we'd done tonight. Plus clementines are in season (kinda) right now. Recipe below. This was better than I thought it would be.

Fun night.
And by the way, how gorgeous are these clementines? I was struck by the vibrant orange color, it was so pretty.

Spciy Green Bean Saute (from Ann W)
Saute in wok: 1 lb green beans, snap peas, 1 med onion, 1 sliced red bell pepper, 2 tsp ginger, 1 tsp garlic
Add the following mixture: 3/4 cup veg broth or water, 1/4 cup teryiaki sauce, pinch cayenne pepper, 2 tsp cornstarch
Boil 2 minutes until thickened
Clementine Granita
Juice of 20 or so clementines (about 2.5 cups strained liquid)
1/4 cup superfine sugar
Mix together and freeze in cake pan.
To serve: Scrape with fork and scoop into pretty dish. Top with lime zest and mint.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Split Pea Soup

Oh my goodness gracious. I have just fallen in love with split pea soup. I'd never had it before and it has a horrible reputation (i.e. The Exorcist). But for some strange reason I had a mad urge to eat it today. Now I firmly believe and will rely heavly on my female intuition because this was one of the best ideas I've had in a long time.

The soup honestly is perfect: three ingredients, lots of nutrition, delicious, and it probably cost me less than $2 to make the whole pot. The taste of this soup literally stopped me in my tracks. First, I couldn't believe how silky the texture was. Also, the flavor was surprisingly complex for the few ingredients. And just two ladels-full was incredibly filling.
Start by sweating a small yellow onion in some olive oil with salt until soft.

Rinse one cup of split peas and add to the onions.

Then add 3 cups of water and 1 veggie boullion cube (or straight water, or veg stock). Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove half the soup and blend, then mix back in with the other half. Finish it off with salt and pepper to taste.
The beautiful green bowl of goodness would be perfect if you ended there. But maybe you have a weird compulsion that you can't have a meal consist of only one color. If that's the case, you can add a lovely poached egg and grated parmesan cheese. It might be the perfect winter supper.

I did have a lengthy internal debate about white vs. red wine with this dish. As you can see, I went white and it was a nice pairing. Something about the hot soup with the chilled wine - it worked.
PS - I got the recipe from 101 Cookbooks, but I halved it because I'm getting smarter in my old age and I finally realized I don't have to cook for an army. And I just now realized I forgot the lemon juice that the original recipe called for. Oops, I guess it didn't bother me too much.
Split Pea Soup w/ Poached Egg
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup green split peas, rinsed
3 cups water
1 veggie boullion cube
Sweat the onion and salt in olive oil until soft.
Add split peas, water, and boullion cube and bring to a boil.
Lower heat and simmer 20 minutes.
Blend half the mixture and then mix all of it together.
Finish with salt and pepper to taste.
Top with poached egg, grated parm, and serve with grilled bread and wine.

Beet and Goat Cheese Salad

Preparing for another week of work means thinking about lunches.

I have to do better than last week...I ate out 3 times (and it was only a 4-day week!!!). Shame.

So, in a quest to pack more hearty winter soups and salads, I decided to do something with beets. Beets and goat cheese are a very popular pairing but I've never done one of these salads before. It's ridiculously simple. I would recommend roasting your own beets, although if you happen to find yourself one very lazy Sunday with a growling stomach and no desire to go to the grocery store, I can attest that canned beets do in fact make a satisfactory substitution.

Beet and Goat Cheese Salad

Mixed field greens

Roasted (or canned) beets

Goat cheese

Toasted Walnuts

Dressing: dijon, sherry vinegar, honey, S&P, olive oil

Friday, January 23, 2009

Chocolate Dipped Coconut Macaroons

It's OK to not blog for a week. Especially when I haven't cooked anything delicious to post. Mostly I've been eating things from the pantry/freezer (like leftover homemade tomato sauce from last Fall with leftover ravioli - I'll try to remember to blog about the sauce in September).
But I wanted to post a picture of these macaroons I made before Christmas at Cass's request. I'd never made macaroons before (nor had I ever eaten one) and wow are they easy and pretty tasty.

I got the recipe from Bitten and dipped them in melted bittersweet chocolate. Cass said they were delicious. It's a cell phone pic so the quality is horrible, but you get the idea.

Monday, January 12, 2009

An Oldie But A Goodie

I made this for Alicia one night a few months ago.
It looked really pretty so I wanted to post it.

Seared Salmon on Mashed Peas


Cabbage Apple Slaw

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Caprese (sort of) Salad

Doesn't that look yummy? It's my lunch for tomorrow. Mondays are so much easier to face when I have a delicious lunch to look forward to. Great way to start off the week!

And to give credit where it's due, I ripped the idea for this salad off from the Good Day Cafe in St. Louis Park/Golden Valley.

Caprese (sort of) Salad
romaine and spinach
fresh mozzarella
cherry tomatoes
toasted pinenuts
grilled chicken breast

Dressing: 1 Tbsp mayo, 1 Tbsp homemade pesto, white wine vinegar, olive oil

Ravioli Soup

Today it was about 14 degrees in Minneapolis. The upcoming week is forecasted to be below zero. That means it's soup time!

Tonight I cleaned out the fridge/freezer to make this soup. Cass and I did a tortellini soup when she was here at Christmas and now I like to use fresh pasta in soups to add more "heartiness" to the meal. Because sometimes a bowl of broth soup doesn't really fill me up. I can fool myself by adding some cheese and spinach filled wheat pasta.

Here's what's in this version...

Ravioli Soup

1 can Amy's butternut squash soup

1 can water and 1 cube veggie boullion




cheese-filled wheat ravioli

Serve with grilled bread*

*NOTE: why do I waste cupboard space with a toaster? I haven't used it in years. Grilled bread tastes so much better. I am going to donate that toaster to Goodwill.

Food Network: A Love/Hate Relationship

What I love about Food Network:

Ina Garten/Barefoot Contessa - because she loves to entertain, she lives in a fabulous big house in the Hamptons, she makes classic recipes with real ingredients (nothing light or fat-free), and she's not super skinny.

Giada DiLaurentiis - because her recipes are light and yummy and usually include fish or seafood.

Michael Chiarello - he lives in Napa on a vineyard with lemon trees in his backyard! And he's always throwing a party so the recipes are always appropriate for a crowd.

Nigella Lawson and Jamie Oliver - for a short while, they had shows on Saturday/Sunday mornings but not anymore!

What I hate about Food Network:

My favorite chefs are hardly ever on! Instead, they waste air time with stupid people like the Neely's, Big Daddy, Guy Fieri, and Ted Allen.

Food Network Challenge - who really cares who can toss pizza dough the highest? Or make the tallest building out of cereal?

The Next Food Network Star - DUMB! Don't go lookin for new stars, utilize the good ones you already have and do more "In the Kitchen" stuff.

What I love/hate about Food Network:

Rachel Ray - Yes, she is mega-annoying. If I hear her say "hello Mr. Bear" when the recipe calls for honey in her scratchy cigarette voice/baby talk one more time I might throw something at the TV. But I really hate to admit that I like to watch her recipes because that is how I cook. Give me a show about an entire meal that works with options on how to modify it to my taste and I'm happy. This is actually a show that helps people with ideas on what to cook and encourages them to cook more at home. She just needs to drop the cutesy catchphrases and focus on the recipes and it will be a lot more enjoyable to watch.

Saturday, January 10, 2009


I don't have a whole lot of cookbooks. Most cookbooks that have recipes I like also have about 50 recipes I would never ever make. Not eating red meat seriously limits the cookbooks I want to spend my money on.

So I got to thinking about creating my own personal cookbook that would contain only recipes I want to make - if only I could pick and choose good recipes from many sources and keep them all corralled in one place for easy reference, I would never be at a loss for something to make for dinner.

All I had to do was buy a recycled 3-ring binder and some plastic sheet protectors and I started collecting my favorite recipes from, Cooking Light magazine, and any other places that I came across good recipes. I love my cookbook, it's so personalized - it's all mine and I don't care if others don't like the recipes I put in there because it's not meant to please anyone but myself,...kind of like this blog!

Another source of good recipes is to go to and sign up for their daily recipe email. I often get really great ideas from these daily emails and if I like it a lot I print the recipe out and add it to my cookbook.

Nicoise Salad

Best. Salad. Ever.
Had it for the first time at my favorite Mpls restaurant Barbette several years ago. It's best with seared ahi tuna but my easy, cheap, quick version substitutes canned tuna in a pinch.

Also, I was out of any kind of olives today, which is kind of a big thing since the salad is named for the Nicoise olive and it really did taste like it was missing somthing. Oh well, it was still tasty. I love this salad so much because it's healthy but also hearty and pretty. If making it for a crowd, I'd put it in a huge salad bowl and arrange the toppings in concentric circles on the top. I've even heard that the classic recipe includes tomato which would also look pretty on here. And, I assume grilled chicken would be a good substitute if someone is anti-tuna.
Here's what I put in it:
Nicoise Salad
field greens
boiled or roasted potatoes
haricot vert
1/2 can good quality tuna - or seared ahi tuna
1 sliced hard boiled egg
Nicoise or Kalamata olives
Salt and pepper
Dressing: tarragon vinegar, dijon mustard, honey, olive oil, salt and pepper

Homemade Granola

I hate it when they say you lose more weight if you eat breakfast because I am not a big breakfast eater. In the mornings I usually am not hungry for anything other than coffee (and sometimes treating myself with added soymilk). BUT - about a year ago, I caved and started buying the amazing Luna bars to keep in my desk at work. Eating one of these tasty treats at about 10:00 am each day really helped! I didn't get so hungry that I overate at lunch. I was really proud of my new routine that helped me stay on track. But at about $1 to $1.50 per bar, it started to get cost prohibitive to eat the Lunas every day.

So I discovered homemade granola.

There are lots of reasons to make your own's better for you, it's cheaper, it tastes better, and there's less packaging and waste.

I first made homemade granola from an Emeril recipe and turned it into granola bars - because I wanted a close substitute for the Lunas. But this recipe had corn syrup, peanut butter, and other ingredients I really didn't want in my granola. And it was a pain pressing the mixture into the pan, cutting, and wrapping the granola bars.

Then I found Nigella's chocolate peanut granola. Wow, it was the best granola I'd ever had. Served over greek yogurt with some fresh raspberries from my backyard...heaven.

Now, when I want granola, I just throw oats and whatever else I have on hand onto a pan and bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes, stirring frequently.

I cleaned out all the nuts and seeds in my freezer to make this batch -it includes raw peanuts, pecans, sunflower seeds, whole almonds, walnuts, cocoa powder, honey, brown rice syrup, brown sugar, salt, and cinnamon.

Even when I don't have yogurt in the fridge (like today), it's a protein packed breakfast that's portable and tasty all on its own. Stored in mason jars (less waste) it keeps for quite awhile (not that it's ever lasted long enough to determine a shelf life).

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Homemade All Natural Lip Balm

I took a Minneapolis Community Education class with 2 of my favorite ladies Alicia and Terrin in November. We learned how to make homemade lip balm. The class was only OK, but the method and recipe were winners. Terrin and I spent a Friday night with a good bottle of wine and made MANY batches of lip balm until 4 in the morning! We had a blast picking out essential oil scents at the Wedge Co-op in Minneapolis, and adding shavings of my old lipsticks to tint the balm. They turned out super cute and I ended up with some more homemade Christmas gifts.

This picture isn't the best, but I think you get the general idea. We went with a vintage pin-up theme for the cute little tubs of balm. I think we made these the same day Bettie Page died so that's her picture on the label.

Homemade Christmas Ornaments

If you're like me, you drink a lot of wine - red, white, sparkling, and everything in-between. And after drinking said wine, you end up with a lot of leftover wine corks. Does anyone else feel guilty throwing the corks away? I don't know why, but it just seems wasteful! So, I've been saving them up over the past few months and now I have so many I'm not sure what to do with them. Especially with the really cool ones that I either got at a special winery or just had a cool picture or saying on it.

So, I decided to make Christmas Tree Ornaments and give them away to all my friends this year for gifts.

Here's how you do it: go to a hardware store and buy some small "screw eyes." The friendly people at Hudson Hardware store on 42nd St and 28th Ave in South Mpls helped me in about 2 seconds. Screw the eyes into your prettiest cork. Wrap an ornament hook onto the screw eye (you can find the hooks at Target for not much $). Add a red, white, and/or green bow and PRESTO! You have a unique and personal Christmas gift for the wine lovers in your life!

These are 3 of my favorites. From L to R: from a bottle of French wine my friends and neighbors Marney and Colin brought over for dinner one night (Colin's sister had brought them the wine from France, where she lives), from my favorite winery in California that I visited with my friends Cass and Lindsey - Sunce, and finally a cork from Vintner's Cellar in downtown Fargo, ND where I went with my mom as we were researching a wine tour business that my dad may start this spring.

Appetizers - Goat Cheese, Edamole, Feta Salsa

I'm always looking for a killer app to bring to an event. In my opinion, appetizers are pretty much the best thing ever and I love New Year's Eve and Super Bowl simply for the fact that you can always eat appetizers at those events.

My current top 3 appetizers are: lemon/herb goat cheese spread, edamole, and feta salsa. But if you have to choose just one - I promise the goat cheese spread will make everyone swoon - it works on everyone, even those who think they don't like goat cheese.

Lemon/Herb Goat Cheese Spread
1 pkg goat cheese - room temperature
chopped fresh herbs (basil, parsley, and whatever else you like)
juice of 1 lemon

Mix together and enjoy with crackers and veggies

Edamole (adapted from Cooking Light)
1 1/2 bags frozen edamame beans - thawed
juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp hot sauce
2 cloves garlic
olive oil

Blend first 5 ingredients in food processor, stream in oil until you get desired consistency.
Serve with veggies or rice crackers.

Feta Salsa (adapted from a Whole Foods recipe)
1/4 lb good feta cheese
1/4 lb pitted kalamata olives
some sundried tomatoes in oil
chopped parsley
1 clove minced garlic
2 scallions

Chop all together, serve with Stacy's Naked Pita Chips or (even better!) your own homemade pita chips!

Also, I've been eating this on a bed of field greens with halved cherry tomatoes and cucumbers. I think it would also be awesome on a panini with sliced tomato and arugula.

PS - Bill's Imported Foods of Minneapolis has the best feta, olives, and pitas ever!

First Post - Kale and Egg on Toast

January 7, 2009.

Yes, way behind the times to start blogging. I know. But I don't care because nobody is supposed to see this but me. This is going to be my personal reminder to make delicious, lean meals and be more eco-friendly in 2009.

For someone who professes to never make New Year's Resolutions, this seems suspiciously like a way to keep resolutions...hhhmmmm.

But, I'm also going to try to keep a record of favorite recipes I make so I can go back some day and make them again when inspiration is needed.

So, let's start the first post with my new all-time favorite recipe - sauteed kale on toast with a poached egg.

My friend Cassandra taught me how to make this. I thought she had made the recipe up - but then I saw it on the Orangette blog (highly recommended). The key to the greatness of this dish is the Tuscan (or Dinosaur) Kale. Here's how I made it.

Egg, Kale, and Toast
Tuscan kale
chopped white onion
kosher salt
freshly cracked black pepper
fresh grated nutmeg
balsamic vinegar
Extra virgin olive oil

Saute the kale, onion, salt, pepper, and nutmeg together in a skillet with olive oil for about 5 minutes or until softened. Add balsamic vinegar and cook for another minute or two until delicious.

Serve over a piece of good grilled bread (or toast) and top with a poached egg.
Sometimes I add vegetarian sausage to the kale and top the whole shebang with some fresh grated Parm.

Goes great with either red or white wine, followed up with a square of good quality dark chocolate.